Nothing special, but not exceptionally terrible either, 'The Perfect Burger' is a serviceable introduction to Jessica's final season.
Part of the journey is the end, as legendary Marvel superhero Tony Stark stated in the recent Avengers film, and for Netflix’s Marvel street corner, (home to such iconic heroes as Daredevil and… ahem, Iron Fist) the time has come to close the book and tell one final chapter. Jessica Jones, the second of the shows to premiere on Netflix and one of the first to get a second season, is our final slice of Marvel-themed cake, with the release of its third season. The show had a famously fantastic debut season and an infamously disappointing follow-up, but where does this final instalment fall?
This first episode does a nice job of catching us up to speed on Jessica and co after what has been a relatively short interval. Jessica is out doing her thing, trying to balance her perception of heroism with a tempestuous moral compass and irritable personality, which goes as well as you’d expect. Within the first five minutes, she’s thrown one argumentative parent across a Mexican beach and scolded another for overprotective behaviour. “Captain America would never do this,” she’s told by a young girl she’s tasked with locating – a neat line, and one that rings true. Not every superhero can have underpants as clean as Steve Rogers, and Marvel Netflix has always been fantastic at emphasising the real-life struggles of powered people. Following on from the death of her mother in the previous season, Jessica is struggling to work through her grief in a productive manner – something she’s never excelled at – and Krysten Ritter is excellent as always in the lead role.
The same can’t be said of some of her co-stars, though. Rachael Taylor as adoptive sister and newly-minted super-vigilante Trish Walker continues to be an obnoxious presence in the plot, with her holier-than-thou attitude coming off as extremely hypocritical and unlikeable. Malcolm Ducasse (Eka Darville) has some meaty stuff to work with as he starts to question the morality of his work with Hogarth (Carrie-Anne Moss) but he still struggles to carry a scene on his own. As for the aforementioned lawyer, her desperate plea to Jessica to euthanise her before the ALS makes her life unbearable was painful to watch, and not in a good way. The scene was tasteless and extremely misjudged coming in the very first episode, but luckily it seems Hogarth’s sudden vulnerability won’t be holding her back from her scheming for long.
New characters are few and far between, but we get a brief introduction to Erik (Benjamin Walker), a new love interest with a peculiar fetish for cooking burgers (?). Last season’s hunky artist Oscar is nowhere to be seen, even though his kid still hangs around Jessica, so that’s weird. Hopefully the show will explain his absence before long, as it seems the show has brushed over a lot of important plot developments to be fleshed out in flashbacks later in the season. There is an even briefer introduction to a new antagonist, a masked assailant who shivs Jessica in the gut before making his escape. Whilst the cliffhanger certainly left me curious, I’m left wondering if the absence of a compelling villain as seen last season will once again let down the action. David Tennant’s Kilgrave is pretty unbeatable, and Jessica Jones hasn’t got a particularly-interesting rogues gallery to derive antagonists from, so perhaps we’ll see a different kind of foil show up? Time will tell.
It’s difficult to escape the impression that the whole season is a little bit underwhelming. I know I’d much rather have gotten a fourth season of Daredevil over this, but as circumstances have panned out, Jessica is going to be the one to sing Netflix Marvel to its sleep. So I guess I’ll take what I can get. With enough time and preparation, showrunner Melissa Rosenberg has had the opportunity to wrap up the narrative in a satisfying bow; I only hope the remaining twelve episodes will scratch this phantom itch.
Jessica Jones Season Three is available to stream in its entirety on Netflix now.
Watch the trailer below: